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The Strange White Man 47

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As he watched the Captain make his way into the dark woods, he prayed that his journey would be safe one. He was not really worried, the Captain was a warrior and woe unto the highway robber that crossed his path.

It was then that his acute hearing picked up some new sounds. From his hiding place in the bush Carpenter could see the guards carrying torches and walking the top of walls around the castle and stopping occasionally to peer over the side, they were searching for him.

He was so intent on watching that he lost track of time and soon he noticed the band of bright sky slowly peeking up over the mountain tops. Sunrise, he needed to get inside quickly.

He returned to Felsar's lab and noticed the wizard adding more items to his cloak. The wizards cloak had numerous secret pockets throughout in which he stored flash powders and other items to aid him. His mind was so focused on his task that he did not hear the Prince enter and the stern look on his face caused him worry.

"Is anything amiss?" he asked.

Felsar gave a slight start and then composed himself.

"Forgive me young Sir, I did not hear you enter," he responded.

"What has happened?"

Felsar bade the Prince to take a seat. The fact that he had been seen has thrown the whole castle in a panic and orders have been given to locate you. The killing of the Princess and the jailing of the Captain has turned many of the guards and towns folks against the new King and his mind has become unhinged.

"I have heard that the King is requesting my counsel, but I do not trust him. He is going to ask how this is possible, since I was the one that placed your body in its casket and nailed the lid shut. I will tell him that the change doesn't happen quickly, according to the books it takes three days.

"How will you explain my escaping the stone sarcophagus?"

"I took care of that last night while they searched for you. I stole into the burial chamber and slid the stone lid off and then removed the lid from your wooden coffin. I punched a hole in the lid and then carefully renailed it shut. It give the illusion that whatever was in there broke out.

"I have seen the guards walking the wall," the Prince informed Felsar.

"Aye, they are searching for you. He has put extra men on duty at night so you must take care not to be seen."

"They shot arrows at me before and only wounded me."

"If the Princess had not offered you her blood you would have been too weak to escape and they could have destroyed you. The reason you didn't die immediately was because they didn't hit your heart.

Now, if one of the men remembers the terrible attack on your parents and my shouting for them to aim for the heart, they will surely tell the King and then your next encounter with them could prove fatal," Felsar informed him.

"Awake," came the voice from a distance.

Carpenter was back again in his rail car. He told the Monk everything he had remembered and mentioned that his head hurt.

"As you requested, I kept you under longer than normal. Too many recallled memories flooding your brain too quickly. Now return to your ranch and we will continue tomorrow."

Upon arriving home, he told Holly all that he had remembered and he wept openly at the memory of the loss of his Princess and her life saving gift to him. Holly wrapped her arms around him and wept with him.

"She must have really loved you," she said simply, still holding him.

The following evening Carpenter did not see the Monk, instead he and Holly went into town to see the owner of the Cactus Flower and inquire on the plans for their wedding. Holly made an offhanded comment about heading to the territorial capital to do some shopping and needing to contact Texas Jack for transportation.

"Ya don't need to go overland anymore. They just finished their train station and its now a regular stop for trains heading west," the owner told him.

On the ride home, Carpenter told Holly he would have the Monk stay at the ranch house, while she took the rail car to the capital. She would take more bags of gold nuggets to be turned into paper money.The custom built portmanteau would always be shipped as a safety measure.

Later that evening, they both ventured into the mine and spent the remainder of the evening filling bags with the gold they extracted. When they returned to the ranch house, Carpenter asked her more questions.

"Do your parents still live? Do you want to invite them to the wedding?" He asked.

"My Maw is still alive as far as I know. My Dad was run off, when I was twelve or so," she answered.

"Run off?"

"Yeah, Maw caught him looking funny at me, the way he looked at other women and knew what he was thinking."

"Send her an invitation, if you wish and if she needs money to travel offer it," he responded.

Two day later Carpenter's private car was hooked to the next train heading west. Arrangements had been made for it to be parked on a siding in the territorial capital. All the Monk's research books and papers had been loaded into the buggy. All that was left to do was bid Holly goodbye.

Later that evening, as Carpenter mined more gold, the Monk returned to his research papers. His findings remained conclusive. All that was needed was to test his theory and now was a good a time as any.

With Holly away Carpenter returned to his old habit of sleeping in the cave. The Monk forced himself to remain awake and as the first rays of sunlight struck the house, he opened the door and stepped into the blinding yellow light.

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